Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CF Edley wonder thup wif Paul Simon and Darkies?

I am a dancer. Everybody knows it. And I grew up dancing to Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints alongside Janet and Michael and Bob. Yeah, Bena, whoever you are, you reminded me. Paul Simon is amazing.
What I want to talk about is stupid shit like authenticity and propriety and cultural theft etc. I want to hate on this dood for shit like Mother and Child Reunion:

Wiki describes it as "one of the first examples of reggae attempted by a white person." But it goes on to mention that Simon used Jimmy Cliff's backing band. There's a lot to say about Jimmy Cliff, but that's for another time. Point here, seems like Paul Simon really just loved the music. Not to mention that this was his first post-Garfunkle solo album and it is not a "reggae" album by any means. See the last vid in this post. Also, this album has that other jam, that Wes Anderson fave, which is a hot cut and not some muddy cultural amalgam. Sic.

I'm getting away from myself here. What I really want to talk about is Graceland, which dood recorded in '85 in Johannesburg with a whole bunch of African musicians. Everybody knows this album and if they don't they can go away. So look here, this video is questionably questionable, especially the opening montage, especially that it was shot in Mugabe's Zimbabwe, whatever whatever. But....

Look how fucking happy that guitarist is!!! Does that make this allright? Does the fact that the song is amazing and starts out with a tight accordian lick make this fine? Is there no way this can be fine? Is it just the fact that my half-blackness has hypersensitized me to everything that Whites and Blacks do in relation to one another?

Okay, another, same concert, but now you line up Ladysmith Black Mambazo and have them do awesome dances....

in front of a mostly black audience. And then the question arises, well, who was the concert actually for? Is he showcasing African culture for Blacks, or for Whites around the world? Does it matter? The song is great, but is it patronizing? And if it is, is the song not great? No wait, the song is great. Should we just thank him for that?

I wouldn't give up Graceland and my childhood of dancing around to You Can Call Me Al for anything, especially not simply in an effort to clear up cultural questions. When dood stayed home in White America he wrote amazing songs too, ones I listen to a lot actually, like this real killer, also off his first solo jam:

So, I guess I haven't figured out anything. Paul Simon made music alone as a whitey and in collaboration with darkies. I like both. Any thoughts?


Tal said...


Anonymous said...

you should make the same post. but instead of black vs white make it gay vs straight and conclude to be bi-sexual. whatever whatever.

CF Edley said...

oooh. i like that idea. but this blog is dedicated to the "race card."
word verification: tograp

Bena said...

ok so paul just really loved the music. and part of what makes him so good like when youre a kid is that you don’t hear a muddy sic cultural amalgam but sound that makes you get up n dance. paul simon kinda made you a dancer. maybe what i find strange is that the muddy sic cultural amalgam can only be good in spite of conditions of production (sorry sorry), in spite of a history of cultural appropriation—the question isn’t “is this really good?” but “is this good enough to make you forget where this happened and who got paid?” i mean the political questions are so complex you could write about them for pages and pages (is paul a cultural gatekeeper? a beneficent ear? an ambassador from one apartheid to another?) but since I don’t wanna get too dumb dumb on the blog blog i will just agree this is tough tough. cause once you see that mugabe poster, once you hear paul say he is gonna do a concert about south africa for the people of zimbabwe, it would be dumb of you to forget those facts & dumb of you to remember them while you watch ladysmith do that AMAZING dance. so if you just say paul is really good, it seems like you are doing some old school aesthetic judgment type shit that erases historical context. and if you can’t say graceland is really good—if you can only say graceland is really good (or bad) for its political implications or market success—then you rob any muddy project of the authoritative goodness (or badness) that white artists are automatically granted, and you rob it of being heard as a real accordion lick, a real rhythm that gets you move. am I wrong wrong?

Hima said...

1) great post chris
2) as the editor in chief of this here blog i can say that this blog is not dedicated to the "race card" but rather "first and foremost humor, as well as culture (music, art), issues of concern to people of color, indian things, and whatever whatever).
3) i also dont know what to think but enjoy the music. this is so much easier when the musician in question is vampire weeken or asher roth.
4) bena, you're awesome. who are you.
5) NUMBERS!!!!!!

CF Edley said...

would also like to know who Bena is. and thanks heems. and i agree with what i agreed with before but am still confused, archane pun. race card. order.

Bena said...

so i came here looking for closure. i think i kinda got it. plus you all are brilliant. maybe you should publish something like 'general idea' dedicated to the race card in supposedly postracial u.s. how to use arcane puns in times that still demand them?anyway. yes. i think i have crossed my threshold for shadiness and evidently yours too, so i trust the rest to allah and be over and out.
happy new decade people!

early xmas:

CF Edley said...

Bena, don't go!

Dap said...

Bena, you musn't leave, not before 2010!

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